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Pair of NOCHS programs to end

Krystle Wagner • Jun 26, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Changes are coming to two local health services.

North Ottawa Home Care, a division of the North Ottawa Community Health System, will dissolve June 30. And NOCHS’ diabetes education program will also come to an end.

In leveraging the Grand Haven-based health system’s affiliation with Mercy Health and looking to “find the best partner,” NOCHS officials said the home care patients will be served through North Ottawa at Home, which will be operated by Trinity Health At Home.

Trinity Health at Home is operated by Trinity Health, the parent company of Mercy Health.

NOCHS’ home care division began about 30 years ago as a way to fill a gap in care, but it wasn’t intended to be invested in as an independent organization the way a larger service could, according to Jen VanSkiver, the health system’s spokeswoman. She said the home care division had a small footprint and didn’t have enough volume to generate income to invest in those services, but a larger organization with a larger footprint is better suited to make those investments.

VanSkiver said it’s an important service with a growing demand and increasing complexity.

Through health care reforms and changes in needs, more conditions are being handled in lower levels of care settings to reduce hospitalizations, VanSkiver said. By being an independent organization, they will have the ability to “bring in the best partners and bring more choice to the market,” she said.

NOCHS looked at options such as Trinity Health At Home, a national home care agency that has “highly credentialed staff,” VanSkiver said, who can bring resources into the community that NOCHS couldn’t otherwise provide.

Although a national agency, VanSkiver said Trinity Health At Home looks to partner with local hospitals and keep care local while keeping patients in their homes and in their own community.

North Ottawa At Home will look at local data, the market and how it fits inside the health system’s efforts and supports keeping patients at home.

“NOCHS can focus on core competencies, divest in an area that’s not been a core competency and area of expertise, and we can focus on things we do well,” VanSkiver said.

Currently, there are 118 active home care patients. About 90 patients will be involved in the transition. Some patients won’t be part of the transition because their care plan already called for them to be discharged, VanSkiver said.

Two dozen employees — administrative support, nursing staff and aides, and a social worker — were given the opportunity to interview for positions available with North Ottawa at Home. VanSkiver said it was important to keep jobs local.

With the two women who lead diabetes education departing, NOCHS used the opportunity to re-evaluate the services they provided.

“That’s what a health system should be doing — constantly evaluating as market shifts and reforms change,” VanSkiver said.

Ultimately, they found diabetes education was part of a duplicated service.

Previously, the care was delivered through the hospital, but health care reform measures and insurance incentives changed the way the care is delivered. VanSkiver said that it’s now provided in physicians’ offices, and diabetes is part of a case management that’s handled by the health system’s nurse navigators.

Additionally, the health system is part of a pilot program called Ottawa Pathways to Better Health. The three-year initiative serves residents who have two or more chronic diseases and receive Medicaid or are Medicaid eligible.

Patients are being met with so they can be referred to the program or work with nurse navigators, VanSkiver said.

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